The news exploded on Sunday – April Fool’s Day of all days – that Tony Ferguson had to bail out of Saturday’s UFC 223 main event with Khabib Nurmagomedov. But this was no joking matter, Ferguson truly did have to withdraw from the fight because of a knee injury, derailing the match-up for the fourth time.
Though Ferguson on Sunday said that he was going to get his knee evaluated again before determining a course of treatment, UFC president Dana White on Sunday night sounded fairly certain that Ferguson would require surgery to repair the injury, a tear of his lateral collateral ligament.
“Tony Ferguson hurt himself, he tore his LCL,” White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. “Apparently, that’s an injury that you don’t (usually) need surgery on, but he actually tore it off the bone. He is gonna need surgery on his knee.”
The LCL runs along the outside of the knee and is one of the four major ligaments that provide knee stability.
Tony Ferguson Stripped of Interim UFC Lightweight Title
Ferguson was going into the UFC 223 main event as the interim lightweight champion. The undisputed title currently held by Conor McGregor was to be stripped as soon as Ferguson vs. Khabib got underway. McGregor will still be stripped, but Ferguson won’t have the option to win the undisputed title. Now on the sidelines with an injury, Ferguson will be stripped as well.
UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway immediately stepped up to fill the gap and will face Nurmagomedov on Saturday. They will still be fighting for the undisputed UFC lightweight championship. Once they step into the Octagon, McGregor will no longer be the titleholder, and Holloway will be afforded the opportunity to follow in the Irishman’s footsteps with the possibility of becoming only the second athlete in history to win and hold two UFC championships simultaneously.
“As soon as (Holloway and Nurmagomedov) step in the ring and throw a punch, it’s on for the title, and whoever wins, wins the title,” said White, who added that McGregor’s future remains unclear, although he acknowledged the potential for a September return.
Ferguson’s future, however, is fairly clear. He loses the interim belt and heads into recovery mode.
“(The interim title) goes away,” White declared. “This fight is for the title. The winner of this fight will be the champion.”
(Video courtesy of ESPN | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)